The Winnipeg Jets (14-14-4) and Colorado Avalanche (20-9-0) both lost their last games, and both will look to rebound as the Avs take a trip to the MTS Centre on Thursday.
The Jets returned home after their season’s longest road trip, and kept it close with the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, falling short 2-1 on a late third-period goal. The Avalanche offense struggled in their most recent game, a 3-1 loss to the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes, leaving Colorado head coach Patrick Roy with a bitter taste in his mouth. The Avalanche sit in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 40 points, while the Jets are 3 spots back with 32 points. The Avalanche won the only prior meeting between the two this season, a 3-2 victory on October 27. The Jets and Avalanche have only played 3 games against each other since the team moved to Winnipeg, with the Jets winning that series 2-1-0.
The Jets can’t seem to buy a win against Central Division teams, as Winnipeg has picked up only 8 of a possible 30 points against their division counterparts. Thursday’s game will mark the second of three straight games against Central Division teams for the Jets, as they play host to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Winnipeg is 7-7-1 at home this season, while the Avalanche are 10-4-0 on the road.
The Winnipeg Jets will put Ondrej Pavelec between the pipes for the second straight game. Pavelec made 18 saves in the Jets’ losing effort on Tuesday, and has put up a .913% Save Percentage and 2.74 GAA in 25 appearances this season. His counterpart will be Semyon Varlamov, who was also in net for the Avalanche’s last game, where he made 22 saves. Varlamov has played in 21 games this season, and has averaged a .922% Save Percentage and 2.46 GAA. Varlamov has lost 3 of his last four starts.
The Avalanche will be without defenseman Jan Hejda, as he prepares to return to the Colorado lineup when they face the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Hejda missed a week of play after suffering a knee injury against the Edmonton Oilers last week. Fellow defenseman Ryan Wilson is following the same timetable, after the 26-year old was put on Injured Reserve for a back injury suffered approximately a month ago. Wilson will leave behind Alex Tanguay, who suffered a setback in his recovery earlier this week, leaving him on IR indefinitely. The Jets’ Evander Kane was described as “more than day-to-day” by head coach Claude Noel on Wednesday, and he will miss his fifth straight game with a lower-body injury. The Jets are also without defencemen Paul Postma, Jim Slater, and Zach Bogosian, who are all on the Injured Reserve with no set plans for a return.
The Jets’ power-play, ranked 27th in the NHL, will look to find offense once again after scoring the team’s only goal against the Blues on Tuesday. The Jets’ man-advantage will need to take care of Colorado’s penalty-kill, which currently sits in 22nd league-wide with a 80.9% kill rate.
You can watch the game on TSN Jets, or listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can see the game on Altitude. Puck drop from the MTS Centre is scheduled for 6:00 PM Central Time.
Thanks for reading. For more Winnipeg Jets conversation and live game updates follow us on twitter @hkyattheforks.